When you team the Bag End M-6 monitors with the company''s Infra-12 Pro subwoofer, you get a quality 2.1 system that gives you an accurate representation of what''s going on in your mix.
Bag End's passive M-6 monitors ($596 each) are aimed at the personal- and project-studio market. About the same size as the ubiquitous Yamaha NS-10s, the M-6s are designed for close-field monitoring.
The speakers are black with a nylon grille cloth, and weigh 15 lbs. each. They feature a 6-inch woofer, a 1-inch Neodymium tweeter, and binding-post connectors. With a pair of M-6s and the optional Infra-12 Pro subwoofer ($1,980), you can assemble an integrated 2.1 system.
In the Middle
Unlike many studio monitors, which have a slight frequency dip at their crossover point, the M-6s are quite flat in the midrange. That can be good or bad, depending on your point of view. I've always found that the midrange defines the sound of a mix more than the highs or lows. That's where the frequencies for vocals, guitars, keyboards, and snare drums mainly reside.
The M-6s give you a clear window into those frequencies, letting you zero in on the heart of your mix. The downside is that the speakers are putting out a lot of energy in the 2 to 4 kHz range, which can lead more quickly to ear fatigue and make it more difficult to judge a mix as a session progresses.
For context, I compared the M-6s with my regular studio monitors, a pair of Genelec 1030As. When I switched the reference mix from the 1030As to the M-6s, I immediately noticed that the cymbals receded a bit and the guitars and vocals got louder and more aggressive. On a solo acoustic guitar track, the shimmer went away somewhat and was replaced by a nice woodiness and a clearer picture of the room tone.
Aligned in Time
A unique feature of the Bag End speakers is their concentric tweeter design, meaning that the tweeter sits right in the middle of the woofer. The idea is that the sound coming from both drivers (woofer and tweeter) will hit your ears at exactly the same time no matter where your head is positioned, helping to eliminate phase issues between them.
Bag End also uses a process called Time Align (Time Align is a registered trademark of E.M. Long Associates, from which Bag End licensed the technology), which ensures that the tweeter and woofer are putting out the same signal at exactly the same time, further reducing phase problems. The sweet spot of the M-6s is much wider than that of most speakers, without the phasing you sometimes get from moving your head a few inches.
On the Down Low
By themselves, the M-6s don't have a lot of bottom. They spec out down to 60 Hz, but they seem to drop off sharply around 80 or 90 Hz. It makes a world of difference, however, when you plug them in through the Infra-12 Pro subwoofer; you get a clean and focused low end.
A highpass circuit, built into the sub's outputs, allows you to plug your monitor mix in to two of its six XLR inputs (or all six for surround) and then take those channels' corresponding outputs out on XLRs to the power amp. You also get a switch for reversing the polarity of the collective bass signal, and one for cutting off the low-end response of the sub at 20 Hz instead of its impressive 8 Hz default.
The sub's Dynamic Filter Protection circuitry is designed to attenuate frequencies that are causing overload. A separate module containing an LED is provided, which plugs into the Infra-12 Pro and lights to indicate when the protection circuit is active.
Not Too Shabby
Although the 2.1 system featuring the M-6s and the Infra-12 Pro is expensive, the quality is commensurate to the price. These are fine speakers, and I've enjoyed recording and mixing on them during the evaluation period for this review. My mixes on them translated quite well when listened to on other systems such as my home stereo.
With their flat midrange and passive electronics, the M-6s may not sound as pleasing as some other studio monitors, but perhaps that makes them more compatible with real-world listening environments. When you are able to hear a good representation of what is really going on in the music, it helps a lot, and that's exactly what this system provides. I give the M-6s a thumbs-up, but only when teamed with the Infra-12 Pro. Start saving for them now.